"Teach me something. It doesn't have to be the traditional subjects. How about how to tie a shoe...? Something that is deep in your bones—driving in rush hour on I-94 to work each day."
Natalie Goldberg, Old Friend from Far Away
"I am the daughter of a man that calls a tow truck for a flat tire. Alan made me change the tire on his Land Rover my first trip to the Congo. He said something to the affect that people will not always come running to help a pretty white woman.
"I was a weak little girl back then (Miller laughs, she is still a size four with very little muscle mass). So, Alan teaches me how to change a tire that came up to my waist. It was quite the scene with Alan trying to give instructions in Swahili and half in English, lunging to help as I am rolling in the dirt beneath the wheel shaft hoping the truck will not fall on me.
"In return, I teach Alan how to process film in the middle of the bush with a limited supply of water surround by film's number one enemy, dust and dirt. I toss scissors, a roll of film and a plastic film reel and canister in a changing bag and tell him to remove the film from the canister and put it on the reel, and seal it in the can. No problem he says with confidence. He tucked his hand in the armholes and pried open the film with the edge of the scissors. I had showed him in the light how to load the film on the reel but his fumbling large hands in the black changing bag could not get the flimsy roll of film on the plastic reel. I roared with laughter as he got more and more frustrated, he could fix anything but could not get the film to roll smoothly in the groves of the reel. And he new I wanted what was on that roll so he couldn't give up and pull his hands out of the sleeves without messing up the film. I had neglected to tell him that he could just put the film loose in the can to save the film from the light and I could finish it. It took him over thirty minutes and I was tackled to the ground after I told him about the canister trick."